Duterte renews call to abolish Kafala system

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 22) — President Rodrigo Duterte has renewed his call to dismantle the Kafala system for migrant workers in the Middle East, saying it is "unjust."

Kafala system requires each worker to have a sponsor — either a citizen or a company — in the host country. It gives sponsors control over workers' employment and immigration status, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, according to human rights groups.

"The Kafala system is one such behemoth that chains the weak, the desperate, and the voiceless to an existence of unimaginable suffering," Duterte said in his speech for the 76th United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

"Nothing can justify the continued existence of this unjust system. While reforms have been made, the Kafala system must be dismantled – sooner rather than later – in the name of justice and basic decency," he added.

He made the same call in April this year, calling the sponsorship system "exploitative."

PH accepts Afghan refugees

Duterte also said the Philippines has opened its doors to Afghan nationals fleeing from conflict and urged countries to do the same.

"As one global community, we must do our utmost to help the Afghan people and all those who continue to suffer," he said.

The chief executive added that the government is also working with the UN High Commissioner on Refugees to prepare a cooperation program for a "specific number" of Rohingya, an ethnic group—most of whom are Muslims—in Myanmar.

"The Philippines has limited resources during these extraordinary times. But what we can do for humanity and to uplift human dignity, we will," Duterte said.